Latvia Travel Health Information

Read below for travel health advice on Latvia from the MDtravelhealth channel on Red Planet Travel.

Page Sections

  1. Summary
  2. Medications
  3. Immunizations
  4. Recent outbreaks of diseases
  5. Other Infections
  6. Food and Water
  7. Insect Tick Protection
  8. General Advice
  9. Ambulance
  10. Medical Facilities
  11. Pharmacies
  12. Travel with children
  13. Travel and pregnancy
  14. Maps
  15. Embassy
  16. Safety Information
  17. Page Drop Box

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  • Summary You can't Edit

    1

    Summary of recommendations

    Most travelers to Latvia will need vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid fever, as well as medications for travelers' diarrhea. All travelers should be up-to-date on tetanus-diphtheria vaccination. Other immunizations may be necessary depending upon the circumstances of the trip and the medical history of the traveler, as discussed below. All travelers should visit either a travel health clinic or their personal physician 4-8 weeks before departure.

    Vaccinations:

    Tetanus-diphtheria For all travelers who have not received a tetanus-diphtheria immunization within the last 10 years.
    Hepatitis A Recommended for all travelers
    Typhoid For travelers who may eat or drink outside major restaurants and hotels
    Hepatitis B Recommended for all travelers
    Rabies For travelers at high risk for animal bites or involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats
    Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given
    Influenza Recommended for all travelers from November through April
  • Medications You can't Edit

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    Medications

    Travelers' diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment. The cornerstone of prevention is food and water precautions, as outlined below. All travelers should bring along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhea occurs, defined as three or more loose stools in an 8-hour period or five or more loose stools in a 24-hour period, especially if associated with nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in the stool. A quinolone antibiotic is usually prescribed: either ciprofloxacin (Cipro)(PDF) 500 mg twice daily or levofloxacin (Levaquin) 500 mg once daily for a total of three days. Quinolones are generally well-tolerated, but occasionally cause sun sensitivity and should not be given to children, pregnant women, or anyone with a history of quinolone allergy. Alternative regimens include a three day course of rifaximin (Xifaxan) 200 mg three times daily or azithromycin (Zithromax) 500 mg once daily. Rifaximin should not be used by those with fever or bloody stools and is not approved for pregnant women or those under age 12. Azithromycin should be avoided in those allergic to erythromycin or related antibiotics. An antidiarrheal drug such as loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate (Lomotil) should be taken as needed to slow the frequency of stools, but not enough to stop the bowel movements completely. Diphenoxylate (Lomotil) and loperamide (Imodium) should not be given to children under age two.

    Most cases of travelers' diarrhea are mild and do not require either antibiotics or antidiarrheal drugs. Adequate fluid intake is essential.

    If diarrhea is severe or bloody, or if fever occurs with shaking chills, or if abdominal pain becomes marked, or if diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, medical attention should be sought.

    Though effective, antibiotics are not recommended prophylactically (i.e. to prevent diarrhea before it occurs) because of the risk of adverse effects, though this approach may be warranted in special situations, such as immunocompromised travelers.

  • Immunizations You can't Edit

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    Immunizations

    The following are the recommended vaccinations for Latvia:

    Tetanus - diphtheria vaccine is recommended for all adults who have not received a tetanus-diphtheria immunization within the last 10 years. In the 1990s, a massive diphtheria epidemic occurred in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union (see CR Vitek and M Wharton, Emerging Infectious Diseases). Cases of diphtheria have been reported among U.S. citizens who have traveled to this area.

    Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers over one year of age. It should be given at least two weeks (preferably four weeks or more) before departure. A booster should be given 6-12 months later to confer long-term immunity. Two vaccines are currently available in the United States: VAQTA (Merck and Co., Inc.) (PDF) and Havrix (GlaxoSmithKline) (PDF). Both are well-tolerated. Side-effects, which are generally mild, may include soreness at the injection site, headache, and malaise.

    Older adults, immunocompromised persons, and those with chronic liver disease or other chronic medical conditions who have less than two weeks before departure should receive a single intramuscular dose of immune globulin (0.02 mL/kg) at a separate anatomic injection site in addition to the initial dose of vaccine. Travelers who are less than one year of age or allergic to a vaccine component should receive a single intramuscular dose of immune globulin (see hepatitis A for dosage) in the place of vaccine.

    Typhoid vaccine is recommended for all travelers, with the exception of short-term visitors who restrict their meals to major restaurants and hotels, such as business travelers and cruise passengers. It is generally given in an oral form (Vivotif Berna) consisting of four capsules taken on alternate days until completed. The capsules should be kept refrigerated and taken with cool liquid. Side-effects are uncommon and may include abdominal discomfort, nausea, rash or hives. The alternative is an injectable polysaccharide vaccine (Typhim Vi; Aventis Pasteur Inc.) (PDF), given as a single dose. Adverse reactions, which are uncommon, may include discomfort at the injection site, fever and headache. The oral vaccine is approved for travelers at least six years old, whereas the injectable vaccine is approved for those over age two. There are no data concerning the safety of typhoid vaccine during pregnancy. The injectable vaccine (Typhim Vi) is probably preferable to the oral vaccine in pregnant and immunocompromised travelers.

    Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all travelers if not previously vaccinated. Two vaccines are currently licensed in the United States: Recombivax HB (Merck and Co., Inc.) (PDF) and Engerix-B (GlaxoSmithKline) (PDF). A full series consists of three intramuscular doses given at 0, 1 and 6 months. Engerix-B is also approved for administration at 0, 1, 2, and 12 months, which may be appropriate for travelers departing in less than 6 months. Side-effects are generally mild and may include discomfort at the injection site and low-grade fever. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) occur rarely.

    Rabies vaccine is recommended only for those at high risk for animal bites, such as veterinarians and animal handlers, for long-term travelers living in areas with a high risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats. A complete preexposure series consists of three doses of vaccine injected into the deltoid muscle on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28. Side-effects may include pain at the injection site, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, dizziness, or allergic reactions.

    Any animal bite or scratch should be thoroughly cleaned with large amounts of soap and water and local health authorities should be contacted immediately for possible post-exposure treatment, whether or not the person has been immunized against rabies.

    Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine: two doses are recommended (if not previously given) for all travelers born after 1956, unless blood tests show immunity. Many adults born after 1956 and before 1970 received only one vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella as children and should be given a second dose before travel. MMR vaccine should not be given to pregnant or severely immunocompromised individuals.

    Influenza vaccine is recommended for all travelers during flu season, which runs from November through April. Influenza vaccine may cause soreness at the injection site, low-grade fevers, malaise, and muscle aches. Severe reactions are rare. Influenza vaccine should not be given to pregnant women during the first trimester or those allergic to eggs.

    Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine may be considered for long-term travelers who expect to be visiting rural or forested areas in the spring or summer. The incidence of tick-borne encephalitis rose dramatically in the late 1990s but has fallen in recent years (see Eurosurveillance). In Latvia, the disease occurs countrywide, with the highest incidence in the central part of the country and lowest in the southeast (see EpiNorth). A minority of cases are transmitted by consumption of unpasteurized goat milk. Two vaccines have been developed: TicoVac, also known as FSME Immun (Baxter AG), which is manufactured in Austria, and Encepur (Chiron Behring), which is made in Germany. The vaccines are approved for use in a number of European countries, but not the United States. A full series consists of three doses over a one-year period, which is not practical for most travelers, though limited data indicate that Encepur may be given in an accelerated schedule for faster immunity. Tick precautions, as discussed below, are strongly advised.

  • Recent outbreaks of diseases You can't Edit

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    Recent outbreaks

    An increased number of cases of hepatitis A has been observed in Latvia since October 2007. A majority of the cases occurred in Riga, including an outbreak associated with a restaurant there in April 2008 (see Eurosurveillance). More than 2800 cases and 17 deaths were confirmed country-wide between November 2007 and December 2008. Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers to Latvia.

    An outbreak of enteroviral meningitis was reported in September 2006 from several areas in eastern Latvia, including the region of Rezekne (consisting of the city and district of Rezekne and the district of Ludza) and the region of Daugavpils (consisting of the city and district of Daugavpils and the district of Kraslava). As of September 27, a total of 258 cases had been registered, chiefly in children and teenagers. The outbreak appeared to have originated in a sports centre in Rezekne shared by several children’s teams (see Eurosurveillance). Unlike bacterial meningitis, most cases of enteroviral meningitis resolve uneventfully. The infection is spread by direct contact with the respiratory secretions or feces of an infected person. No travel precautions are recommended except for careful attention to hand washing and personal hygiene, especially after using the toilet, before eating, and after changing diapers. The chief symptoms of meningitis are fever, severe headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to bright light, drowsiness or confusion, and nausea and vomiting. Anyone who develops these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.

    The incidence of tick-borne encephalitis rose dramatically in the late 1990s. The incidence is highest in the central part of the country and lowest in the southeast. Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral infection of the central nervous system transmitted by tick bites, usually after travel to rural or forested areas in the spring or summer. The infection may also be acquired by ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. The disease typically begins as a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, and vomiting, followed by the development of neurologic symptoms. Neurologic damage may be permanent, causing chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, muscle weakness or loss of balance. Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine should be considered for long-term travelers who expect to be visiting rural or forested areas in the spring or summer. The vaccine has been approved for use in many European countries, but not the United States. Tick precautions are strongly advised, as below.

    Trichinellosis has been reported after consumption of contaminated pork products. A trichinellosis outbreak occurring in January-March 2005 was linked to salted streaky bacon bought at Riga central market. The main symptoms were weakness, nausea, facial swelling, and fever (see Eurosurveillance). Make sure all pork products are well-cooked before consumption.

    A massive diphtheria epidemic was reported in the 1990s from the the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Cases of diphtheria were reported among U.S. citizens who had traveled to this area. All travelers should make sure they have had a tetanus-diptheria immunization within the last 10 years.

  • Other Infections You can't Edit

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    Other infections

    Lyme disease is prevalent in central and northern Europe, including Latvia. Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection which causes fever, headache, joint pains, body aches, and malaise, usually in association with an expanding red rash, often pale in the center (known as a bull's eye rash). If not treated in its early stages, the illness may be complicated by arthritis, meningitis, encephalitis, Bells palsy, or cardiac involvement. Tick precautions are recommended for travel to rural and forested areas, especially during the warm weather months.

    HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection is reported, but travelers are not at risk unless they have unprotected sexual contacts or receive injections or blood transfusions.

    For detailed statistics regarding many infectious diseases, go to EpiNorth (click on EpiData from the menu on the left).

  • Food and Water You can't Edit

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    Food and water precautions

    Do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Do not drink unbottled beverages or drinks with ice. Do not eat fruits or vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked. Avoid cooked foods that are no longer piping hot. Cooked foods that have been left at room temperature are particularly hazardous. Avoid unpasteurized milk and any products that might have been made from unpasteurized milk, such as ice cream. Avoid food and beverages obtained from street vendors. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish. Some types of fish may contain poisonous biotoxins even when cooked. Barracuda in particular should never be eaten. Other fish that may contain toxins include red snapper, grouper, amberjack, and sea bass.

    All travelers should bring along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhea occurs, defined as three or more loose stools in an 8-hour period or five or more loose stools in a 24-hour period, especially if accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in the stool. Antibiotics which have been shown to be effective include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), rifaximin (Xifaxan), or azithromycin (Zithromax). Either loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate (Lomotil) should be taken in addition to the antibiotic to reduce diarrhea and prevent dehydration.

    If diarrhea is severe or bloody, or if fever occurs with shaking chills, or if abdominal pain becomes marked, or if diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, medical attention should be sought.

    Do not drink any alcoholic beverage unless known to be produced by a reputable manufacturer. Poisonings by contaminated, illegal alcohol are periodically reported.

  • Insect Tick Protection You can't Edit

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    Insect and Tick Protection

    Wear long sleeves, long pants, and boots, with pants tucked in, when traveling to rural or forested areas. Apply insect repellents containing 25-50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) or 20% picaridin (Bayrepel) to exposed skin (but not to the eyes, mouth, or open wounds). DEET may also be applied to clothing. Products with a lower concentration of either repellent need to be repplied more frequently. Products with a higher concentration of DEET carry an increased risk of neurologic toxicity, especially in children, without any additional benefit. Do not use either DEET or picaridin on children less than two years of age. For additional protection, apply permethrin-containing compounds to clothing and shoes. Permethrin-treated clothing appears to have little toxicity. Perform a thorough tick check at the end of each day with the assistance of a friend or a full-length mirror. Ticks should be removed with tweezers, grasping the tick by the head. Many tick-borne illnesses can be prevented by prompt tick removal.

  • General Advice You can't Edit

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    General advice

    Bring adequate supplies of all medications in their original containers, clearly labeled. Carry a signed, dated letter from the primary physician describing all medical conditions and listing all medications, including generic names. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to carry a physician's letter documenting their medical necessity.Pack all medications in hand luggage. Carry a duplicate supply in the checked luggage. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring an extra pair. If you have significant allergies or chronic medical problems, wear a medical alert bracelet.

    Make sure your health insurance covers you for medical expenses abroad. If not, supplemental insurance for overseas coverage, including possible evacuation, should be seriously considered. If illness occurs while abroad, medical expenses including evacuation may run to tens of thousands of dollars. For a list of travel insurance and air ambulance companies, go to Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad on the U.S. State Department website. Bring your insurance card, claim forms, and any other relevant insurance documents. Before departure, determine whether your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. The Medicare and Medicaid programs do not pay for medical services outside the United States.

    Pack a personal medical kit, customized for your trip (see description). Take appropriate measures to prevent motion sickness and jet lag, discussed elsewhere. On long flights, be sure to walk around the cabin, contract your leg muscles periodically, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent blood clots in the legs. For those at high risk for blood clots, consider wearing compression stockings.

    Avoid contact with stray dogs and other animals. If an animal bites or scratches you, clean the wound with large amounts of soap and water and contact local health authorities immediately. Wear sun block regularly when needed. Use condoms for all sexual encounters. Ride only in motor vehicles with seat belts. Do not ride on motorcycles.

  • Ambulance You can't Edit

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    Ambulance and Emergency Services

    For a public ambulance in Latvia, call 112. In Riga, you can also call 03. Response times may be slow in rural areas.

  • Medical Facilities You can't Edit

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    Medical facilities

    Medical care is improving, but remains limited by a lack of equipment and supplies. There are a small number of private clinics which offer services comparable to those in Western Europe or North America. Many expatriates go to the Diplomatic Service Medical Centre (Elizabetes street 57, floor 4, Riga, LV-1050; tel. 71 722-9942, 728-0352; emergency tel. 371 752-0930, 752-0152; website http://www.dsmc.lv/eng/index.htm). One of the major hospitals in Riga is Paula Stradina Kliniska Universitates Slimnica (Pilsoņu iela 13, Riga, LV-1002; tel. 371 706-9602, 706-9617; website http://www.stradini.lv/eng/; many English-speaking physicians.) For a guide to other physicians, dentists, clinics, and hospitals in Latvia, go to the U.S. Embassy website. Many doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities.

  • Pharmacies You can't Edit

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    Pharmacies

    Most pharmacies are privately owned, except for the hospital pharmacies. Drugs are closely monitored for safety and quality. Most pharmaceuticals are produced in Latvia or imported from the former Soviet Union and other eastern European countries. Most, but not all, medications available in the United States are available in Latvia. Many are sold under different names. For further informationon pharmaceuticals in Latvia, go to the World Health Organization.

  • Travel with children You can't Edit

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    Traveling with children

    Before you leave, make sure you have the names and contact information for physicians, clinics, and hospitals where you can obtain emergency medical care if needed.

    All children should be up-to-date on routine childhood immunizations, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children who are 12 months or older should receive a total of 2 doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, separated by at least 28 days, before international travel. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 months should be given a single dose of measles vaccine. MMR vaccine may be given if measles vaccine is not available, though immunization against mumps and rubella is not necessary before age one unless visiting a country where an outbreak is in progress. Children less than one year of age may also need to receive other immunizations ahead of schedule (see the accelerated immunization schedule).

    When traveling with young children, be particularly careful about what you allow them to eat and drink (see food and water precautions), because diarrhea can be especially dangerous in this age group and because the vaccines for hepatitis A and typhoid fever, which are transmitted by contaminated food and water, are not approved for children under age two.

    Be sure to pack a medical kit when traveling with children. In addition to the items listed for adults, bring along plenty of disposable diapers, cream for diaper rash, oral replacement salts, and appropriate antibiotics for common childhood infections, such as middle ear infections.

  • Travel and pregnancy You can't Edit

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    Travel and pregnancy

    International travel should be avoided by pregnant women with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or a history of complications during previous pregnancies, such as miscarriage or premature labor. For pregnant women in good health, the second trimester (18–24 weeks) is probably the safest time to go abroad and the third trimester the least safe, since it's far better not to have to deliver in a foreign country.

    Before departure, make sure you have the names and contact information for physicians, clinics, and hospitals where you can obtain emergency obstetric care if necessary. In general, pregnant women should avoid traveling to countries which do not have modern facilities for the management of premature labor and other complications of pregnancy.

    Strict attention to food and water precautions is especially important for the pregnant traveler because some infections, such as listeriosis, have grave consequences for the developing fetus. Additionally, many of the medications used to treat travelers' diarrhea may not be given during pregnancy. Adequate fluid intake is essential.

  • Maps You can't Edit

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    Maps

    Helpful maps are available in the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda Map Collection and the United Nations map library. If you have the name of the town or city you'll be visiting and need to know which state or province it's in, you might find your answer in the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names.

  • Embassy You can't Edit

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    Embassy/Consulate Location

    (reproduced from the U.S. State Dept. Consular Information Sheet)

    Americans living or residing in Latvia are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga and obtain updated information on travel and security within Latvia. The U.S. Embassy is located at Raina bulv. 7, tel: 371-703-6200; fax: 371-781-4088. Consular information and current travel information can be also found on the Embassy Riga home page at http://www.usembassy.lv.

  • Safety Information You can't Edit

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    Safety information

    For information on safety and security, go to the U.S. Department of State, United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Foreign Affairs Canada, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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